Immigration Questions and Answers with Andy Semotiuk

By Andy Semotiuk | May 14, 2013

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In this interview with Canadian and US immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk, we cover:

  • Australian Investor Program
  • US rejects idea of fingerprinting foreigners
  • Canadian sponsorship for parents and grandparents

1. Australia has devised a new program for foreign investors. It lets foreigners settle in Australia for up to four years, in exchange for a A$5 million investment. Does Canada and the United States have something competitive to match this program?

The newly announced Australian immigration program for immigrants is well designed and is very clever. The $5 million investment, subject to government oversight, will qualify the investor to obtain permanent residence in Australia. Neither Canada nor the USA have any program like it. In the case of Canada, at this moment, there is no investor program immigrants can utilize.

It is expected that Quebec will reopen its old investor program in July, 2013. This program entailed an investment of  $800,000 for five years. This may compare favourably to the Australian program, in that the amount required is smaller. However, there will only be a limited number of spaces available when the program opens, so there is a line up forming already in that regard.

As for the federal scene in Canada, there is nothing yet on the horizon. No doubt a backlog of interested investors is forming to snap up anything that is announced. So Australia is beating Canada to the punch with foreign investors at the moment.

As for the USA, the EB5 program is in full swing. For $500,000 U.S., an investor can and will get a conditional two-year green card. However, by comparison, this program is very rigid and difficult to comply with, relative to what Australia is offering. Australia is offering full permanent residence, while the U.S. is offering conditional residence. That is a substantial difference which gives Australia the edge.

2. A US senate panel has rejected the idea of taking departing foreigners’ fingerprints in order to help determine if foreigners have stayed beyond their time limits. Do you agree or disagree with the decision?

I disagree. If an immigrant has entered the USA illegally and is to be returned to his or her place of citizenship, it appears to me wise and prudent to take fingerprints, due to the illegality. It is not so much to prove unlawful presence, but to prove illegality that such fingerprints should be kept on file to safeguard the USA in future entries.

3. The Canadian federal government recently lifted a moratorium on parents and grandparents immigrating to Canada. What are the rules now? Do you think the change is good?

We need to be thankful, because parents and grandparents will once again be able to immigrate to Canada to join their family members here. However, there are quotas on the number of such applicants that will be accepted. And I doubt the government will allow a new backlog to form in this area as they did in the past. The procedure is similar to the old procedure for sponsoring parents – filing a petition that, once approved, makes its way overseas and becomes the basis of an application by the parent or grandparent to immigrate to Canada. Medicals and police clearances will still be required, and we can still expect long processing times. But at least the option is open again for those who really want to bring their family members to Canada.